Sunday, January 29, 2012

Macintosh Classic from 1990

1990 Mac Classic.  Fired right up!  January 29, 2012

Fired up this 22 year old dinosaur tonight to try to salvage some old writing from the 1990s.  This was my primary computer from 1990 through to 1999 (though, once they invented those darned interwebs, it was pretty much the same as just not having a computer).

I was impressed.  Everything worked.  The first time I turned the power on, it sputtered and wanted a startup disk, which would have pretty much meant it was forever dead.  Flipping it off and back on, the mammoth 40 MB hard drive came on and it worked great.  First time I’ve powered it up in about ten years.

Heck, it worked better than many less ancient computers I have around here.  The frankenPC I am using right this second often needs two or three tries before it can figure out how to start up and load Windows properly.

Apple.  Damn.  I’ll put a check in the score column for you guys tonight.

Now the problem is how to get those old files across the gulf of time to my PCs.

Back in 1999, I didn’t have too much of a problem getting the files moved.  Windows 98 seemed to be able to read the disks and open the ancient Mac Word files as text files with little hassle, if I opened them as text files. I could salvage the content with little hassle and a lot of re-formatting.

12 years later, though, it may be a little more of a hassle.  While frankenPC actually does have a floppy disk drive, it couldn’t read the old Mac disks.

I think old tech may come to the rescue here.  We have an old laptop still running Windows 98, the same OS I was using the last time I tried to salvage some old files from this Mac, that The Ex One recently bough for five bucks off of Ebay.  We haven’t been able to figure out a use for this clunky old laptop but this project may, in fact, end up justifying it’s existence.

Bottom line, though, I am not wasting a lot of time trying to get these files moved.  I have no problem sitting down with my laptop and the Mac and just doing some good old fashioned data entry.  Just having any sort of readable (by eyes, not machines) version of those old files is a big relief to me. 

I think the longest document I want off of there is about seven pages long.  Fortunately, I believe everything much longer than that was moved over to my PCs many, many years ago and backed up properly to avoid any of the data crashes that have plagued my photography over the years.

Recently, though, I noticed a few files missing from my system that, in hindsight, were probably never moved off the Mac.  I am glad it works and that I can retrieve these scraps from my past.  If it can start four or five more times, it will have far exceeded any expected lifetime and it can go quietly off into the good night to rest in peace.

For fun, check out these specs…



9-inch (23 cm) monochrome CRT display, 512 × 342 pixel resolution

40 MB SCSI hard disk drive optional, Built-in SuperDrive 3.5 in floppy disk drive

8 MHz Motorola 68000

Bus Speed
8 MHz

Random Access Memory
1 MB, expandable to 2 or 4 MB using 120 ns 30-pin SIMMs and optional custom RAM-slot expansion card

Read-only Memory
512 KB


3.6 V lithium

Physical dimensions
13.2 in × 9.7 in × 11.2 in (33.5 cm × 24.6 cm × 28.4 cm; depth by width by height)
16 lb (7.26 kg)

Port connections
ADB (keyboard, mouse)
mini-DIN-8 RS-422 serial ports (printer, modem, AppleTalk)
DB-19 (ext. floppy drive)
DB-25 SCSI connector (ext. hard drive, scanner)
1× 3.5 mm Headphone jack socket

Expansion slots

8-bit mono 22 kHz

Macintosh Classic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Classic was an adaptation of Jerry Manock's and Terry Oyama's 1984 Macintosh 128K industrial design, as had been the earlier Macintosh SE. Apple released two versions that ranged from $1,000 to $1,500. Reviewer reactions were mixed; most focused on the slow processor performance and lack of expansion slots. The consensus was that the Classic was only useful for word processing, spreadsheets and databases. The lower price and the availability of education software led to the Classic's popularity in education. It was sold alongside the more powerful Macintosh Classic II in 1991 until its discontinuation the next year.

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